Nearly 600 veterans are put at risk..... after a
dentist working for the Tomah V-A failed to follow
standard infection control procedures for up to a
Now the medical center is offering free screenings
for the veterans to test for infections like Hepatits
C and H-I-V.
News 8's Madalyn O'Neill is live in our newsroom
with the latest..
Martha and Mike ...
Although experts say the risk of infection is very
low ... the Tomah VA is notifying all the patients
of a dentist.... who they are not naming... who allegedly
failed to properly santitize what is called a "Dental
This comes at a time when the Tomah VA is working
to better the center ... which has come under fire
for reports of overprescribing medication and a negative
The Tomah VA medical center has been undergoing a
TOMAH VA ACTING MEDICAL CENTER DIR. "There was culture
issue here, one of non psycological safety, one of
oipiod abuse. Those things are changing."
Part of that change, acting director Victoria Brahm
says, is weeding out employees that put veterans at
risk ... like one of their dentists, who according
to VA administration, knowingly went against the VA's
standards from October 20-15 to October of this year.
Brahm says the dentist had one assistant for most
of the time ... but it was a different assistant who
reported the issue.
Brahm "He had a a replacement dental assistent, she
noted this particular piece of instrument being used,
she reproted it the next day, oct 20 to dental chief
who reported it to senior leadership. We took action
The VA requires the insturment, known as a dental
bur, to be disposable.
Brahm "He brought in his own burrs and cleaned them
with virex s solution salt and a wipe which is nothing
Not only is that against
VA standards, but the President-elect
of Wisconsin's Dental Assocation says that's no longer
"When I first started doing dentistry in 1980, that
was considered acceptable. the only way to make sure
you've killed all the bacteria is to put it through
a sterilization or autclave."
Now the 592 veteran patients who were treated must
now be screened for possible infection.
Brahm "We are testing for hepatis B, C and HIV."
The VA removed the dentist from clinical care ...
and is reffering the case to the criminal Office
of Inspector General for an assessment of any criminal
Brahm "During all of the orientation he used our equpiment
he used it appropriately so it was very purposeful
from what we found in our investigation that he knew
exactly what he was doing and prefered to use his
own eqiupment against procedure."
In Tomah, MO, N8
The dentist's assistant is also under VA administration
investiagation for not bringing the matter to light.
All 592 veterans are being notified by the Tomah
VA ... either by letter, or in the case of 54 who
had bridge or crown work, by phone call.
That's because those who had bridge or crown work
with the instrument the dentist used would be slightly
more likely to get infected, but again, that risk
is still low.
There are no reports of anyone becoming infected
at this time.